Yahoo Launches Ad-Supported Soccer Highlights in U.K.

Yahoo yesterday began streaming free video highlights of English Premier League soccer to users in the U.K., supported by initial advertisers including Sony Pictures, Heineken, and Adidas.

The launch follows Yahoo’s U.K. push around the Soccer World Cup in South Africa earlier this summer, which featured editorial content from England star David Beckham, alongside an extensive online and offline campaign featuring the player. It acquired the rights to stream the Premier League highlights in April.

Yahoo’s U.K. managing director, Mark Rabe, said the company’s intent was to make the site a “home for [soccer] online,” for both users and brands. “For the casual or serious football fan, it’s the best bits of the weekend’s action… For advertisers, it’s…a large volume of quality video inventory,” he said in a statement.

Highlights from individual weekend matches will be made available at 12 am the following Monday, with content from midweek games available the following day. In addition, “best of” packages will feature content such as “goals of the week,” and “team of the week.” Users are prompted to share links to the content via social networks, but are not offered the ability to embed it elsewhere across the Web.

Currently advertiser content is delivered in the form of standard pre-roll video, but with Yahoo preparing to introduce new ad formats proposed by ViVaki’s The Pool initiative in the next few months, that could well be set to change.

There’s a big market for online soccer highlights in the U.K. Previous rights owner Virgin Media seems to have done little to promote the content, or even to attract advertisers when they had access to it. To help attract new audiences and further raise its profile in the soccer space, however, Yahoo says it’s planning a “multi-million” marketing campaign, including rich media and display advertising across soccer-focused U.K. sites, search activity, and a radio campaign in partnership with London-based station XFM.

Marketing creative will continue to make use of the “Make Yahoo your home for football” strapline it used during its World Cup activity, and focus on the fact that fans “need never miss Premier League action” again.

Yahoo’s licensing deal with the Premier League will last three seasons, after which the rights will once again be sold to the highest bidder.

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